Project Description

Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin

Camille Claudel was a talented French sculptor, fascinated with clay and stone since she was a young child. In 1884 she started to work at Auguste Rodin’s studio as his assistant at a young age of 19. He was amazed by her unusual talent and, even though Rodin was 25 years her senior, the two soon began a passionate and tumultuous relationship – a ten-year long story of art, passion and self-destruction. The affair with Rodin both made her and destroyed her. Rodin was not prepared to leave his long-term partner, Rose Beuret, even though he was often unfaithful to her and kept promising Camille that he would leave her. Camille and Auguste influenced each other artistically, nonetheless – while her artistic career had its highlights, Camille often didn’t get the funding for her ideas due to their sexual element and never managed to earn enough money to be fully independent. At times, Rodin paid the rent on her studio. Sometimes, she collaborated with Rodin or let him sign some of her works. Although Claudel came from a rich family and her father supported her sculpting, after he died, her diplomat brother and mother – more suspicious of her lifestyle – held the purse strings. After 1905 Claudel appeared to be mentally ill. She destroyed many of her statues, went missing for long periods of time, exhibited signs of paranoia and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She accused Rodin of stealing her ideas and of leading a conspiracy to kill her. She found herself on the streets of Paris, dressed in beggar’s clothes. Now at her most vulnerable, her brother admitted her to a lunatic asylum. Doctors tried to convince them that she shouldn’t have stayed in such an institution, but they still kept her there. Camille Claudel died on 19 October 1943, after having lived 30 years in the asylum.